On Friday, when U.S. Congressman John Carter held a press conference at Tarleton State University the first room filled quickly, and the conference was moved to another room, where it was soon standing room only again.

As Congressman Carter handed President Dennis McCabe a check for $900,000 the room erupted into applause. Congressman Carter explained, when Erath County and Tarleton State University became part of his district, he knew he wanted to help them do something big, and with the money he earmarked The Rural Law Enforcement and Nursing Programs will do just that.

The Tarleton State University Rural Nursing Program was given $195,000 of federal funding to be used to purchase simulation equipment for the nursing skills lab and equipment to help improve communication with and support for the Tarleton off-campus programs, according to Dr. Elaine Evans, Tarleton Department Head and Associate Professor of Nursing.

With the nursing department growing and the need arising for more space, Tarleton is working on plans for a new building and will be putting shovel to dirt in the fall of 2008 with hopes of completion in the fall, 2010.

“The nursing department has more students enrolled than any other major in the fall of 2006. It continues to be among the most popular choices for students,” said Dr. Evans. “The new nursing building will provide the quality and quantity of space to prepare graduates for the rapidly changing and technology-driven future health care environment.”

The rest of the money Congressman Carter brought to Tarleton will go to The Rural Law Enforcement Program, which is the result of an idea from the late Dr. Richard Shigley, who knew rural law enforcement agencies have limited or no access to information technology. The project will assist rural jurisdictions in implementing a computer information system, and enable agencies from the 30 counties surrounding the Tarleton State University service area to share information almost instantaneously. The area will extend from the Dallas/Fort Worth area all the way to Austin, San Antonio and Abilene.

There is no cost for an agency to participate through the Tarleton program, and access is provided to the Law Enforcement Analysis Portal, which is an information sharing and crime analysis software system.

So far, according to Captain Jim Cooley of the Tarleton State University Police Department IT Special Rural Law Enforcement Program, 30 county sheriff departments and 73 police departments have agreed to participate in the program, and a steering committee has been formed to continue the programs’ success.